Put us back in government in 2015, Nick Clegg says


Nick Clegg: "We are now where we always should have been"

Nick Clegg has urged the British people to put the Liberal Democrats back in government in 2015 to curb the excesses of the Tories or Labour.

"We are the only party that can finish the job of economic recovery, but finish it fairly," he told the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow.

After three years of coalition Britain was now a "step closer" to the death of single party government, he claimed.

He also spoke at length about his family and personal values.

The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Clegg stuck to the argument he has been making all week - namely that coalition government works and the Lib Dems want another go at it.

In a 51-minute speech aimed at preventing the Conservatives from claiming all the credit for the economic upturn, Mr Clegg said Lib Dem policies such as infrastructure spending and more apprenticeships had made all the difference.

"The big question mark that has always hung over the Liberal Democrats - could we handle government? And handle it when the going got tough? - that question mark is now gone.

"This recovery wouldn't be happening without us."

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It is quite a radical message, an argument that the last three years of coalition should not just be an historical aberration but a permanent fixture. ”

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He said Lib Dems had proved wrong the critics who said coalition would never work - but he also looked ahead to the next election, saying that "left to their own devices" Labour or the Tories would "mess it up".

Speaking openly about forming a power sharing deal with the two bigger parties - something he avoided doing before the last election - he said: "Labour would wreck the recovery. The Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery."

He listed a series of Conservative policies which he claimed the Lib Dems had blocked, including "inheritance tax cuts for millionaires, profit-making in schools, firing workers at will, regional pay for public sector workers, scrapping housing benefit for young people, ditching the human rights act and closing down the debate on Trident".

'Values and beliefs'

But he stressed that the Lib Dems were "no-one's little brother", adding: "We have our own values and beliefs."

The speech contained no new policies, following Tuesday's headline-grabbing announcement on free lunches for all children in their first three years at school in England.

Saying Lib Dems would extend the scheme to all primary school children, he said: "Their (the Conservatives) priority is to help some families over others, with a tax break for married couples.

"That tells you everything you need to know about their values."

Nick Clegg's full speech to the Liberal Democrat conference

By contrast, he said his party was helping "young children get the best possible start in life, and that tells you everything about ours".

The Lib Dem leadership have seen off challenges from activists to its nuclear weapons and economic policies, although delegates voted for a review of housing benefit rules - what critics call the "bedroom tax".

And he scoffed at suggestions that coalition was all about personal chemistry between the party leaders, saying any coalition depended on the result of the election.

The party of 'in'

In what will be seen as a hint that he is thinking of stepping down after the next election, he told activists in Glasgow that he "will not be in politics forever".

But he used the speech to set out how his liberal values came to be formed, his "privileged" childhood and his "internationalist" outlook.

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Rarely can there have been more of a gap between how a party sees itself and how it is seen by many of those outside politics”

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He said the Lib Dems had always backed "home rule" for Scotland but would be urging a "no" vote in next year's independence referendum to keep the UK together.

But he hoped the cross-party consensus would continue after the referendum to push for "the next advance in Scottish devolution".

And he said the Lib Dems would be the party of "in" when it came to an EU referendum.

Summing up what his pitch would be at the next election, he said: "In the past the Liberal Democrats would eke out an existence on the margins of British politics.

"Now we hold the liberal centre while our opponents head left and right. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up. We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again."

Lib Dem colleagues praised Mr Clegg's "intensely personal speech" but Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said that, far from restraining the Conservatives, the Lib Dems had backed them all the way.

"He didn't mention the million young people out of work on his watch, the tax cuts for millionaires his party helped to introduce, or the cost of living crisis that means that since he became deputy prime minister wages are down an average of £1,500 a year," she added.

"Nothing he said today made any difference to the fact that Nick Clegg is propping up a Tory-led government that's making things worse for ordinary families."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    One thing they have done is sit idly by whilst the Tories wreck the countries education system. For that and that alone they will lose my vote at the next election, which sadly will leave me without a vote as there is not a party worthy of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    5 Minutes ago
    Educated under Labour by any chance? ... Gvoernment!

    Haha, like you can talk!

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    'Put us back in government in 2015 Nick Clegg says'

    Why so your MPs can keep blindly voting whichever way the Tory whips tell them to?

    The Lid-Dems reputation as an independent political entity has been firmly placed in the mud by the lickspittle kowtowing of their own MPs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    You sold the electorate a promise of integrity and you reneged.

    You could have exerted more "curbs" over a minority Tory government but you were so desperate for power, you betrayed everything and everyone who trusted you.

    You should have thought more about the consequences of breaking election promises and the failure to represent the manifesto upon which you were elected.

    Taxi for Mr Clegg!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    61. Average Joe
    "Myself, my family, my friends and most people I know are economically worse off now compared to 2010... I will not be voting Conservative or Lib Dem at the next election."

    Sigh, Because of course there is no way that Labour's 10 + years in government could have anything whatsoever to do with today's situation. We get what we deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    If the liberal party had to get in with someone else it would have to be Labour as they have made no impression what so ever to this coalition the conservative make nick clegg think it was his idea but you can see it is only what the conservatives would have had to allow to be able to get so much for the rich

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Alas Nick has a safe seat so He will be back post 2015.
    But what about his party? Any student or prospective student should circulate the I'm sorry Video http://youtu.be/KUDjRZ30SNo
    Plus the claim to create another 1M jobs, will they be of the likes of over 75% of the claimed 1.4M which are paying less than £7.95 hour? Prospective Graduates with £40k+ debt take note

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Pfft! All tarred with the same brush! Doesn't matter who gets in!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    from their point of view he's right & he really needs that govt to be Labour. A government voted out normally becomes the opposition but when the LDs are voted out they become nothing. Getting into bed with the Tories again would be too much for many in his party to bear & the country at large would probably hate them even more so he needs to pray for Labour short of a majority to be elected

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Anything to stay in Power

    The LibDems will be consigned to the Political Dustbin.

    They are known liars - Student Fees

    They will never be forgiven for that betrayal.

    I have £10 that Cleggy will lose his deposit if he stands in Sheffield at the next GE, and at good odds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Luckily we are becoming aware of other alternatives to the two main parties, and libdems don't figure in that choice.
    The three traditional parties are being kept afloat, barely, by the remnants of their party machines, the establishment and £millions from those pursuing their own interests.
    The electorate has given up on these cosy and corrupt arrangements.

  • Comment number 77.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    We must hold on to power at any cost Clegg clearly doesn't mix with normal people...if he did he would realise what 'esteem' the LibDems are held in by the average voter!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I voted LibDem in 2010. Never again. Making your case around tempering the so called extremes of the Tories and Labour is a fallacy.
    For your information Nick this is what we have so far:
    Bedroom Tax
    Millionaires Tax Cuts
    Tuition Fees
    Universal Credit shambles
    Privatising Royal Mail and NHS
    Divisive policies designed to maximise social division
    Liberal Values?????????
    Bye Bye Liberal liars...

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Lib Dems will do or say anything to stay in power,the ONLY party that stands for what they believe in and i trust not to do a complete U turn is UKIP,,every other party has lied to me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    If they lose as many seats as they should expect to and UKIP gain as many as they would like to, if the conversation about who does the deal does come up, it will probably be with someone else...

    "Keep us where we should be" - I think he'll find the British people do just that...

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Oh Clegg - do you really not understand that no one trusts you any longer? You hopped into bed with Cameron just to make up numbers and will be forever tainted as a result.

    You were completely ineffectual before the election and you remain so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    2 words - Tuition and fees.
    No flowery or well delivered speeches are ever going to change the opinions of the majority of people.
    Once a liar, always a liar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Hold on, mr clegg you have raised VAT to 20% reduced tax by 5 % for the richest.
    2.5 million unemployed, a million youngsters on the scrap heap.
    ushed up the cost of living by forcing to go down a green energy agenda.

    Oh but illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists can claim human rights, get to stay in this country, get benefits and a council house.

    Good record Mr Clegg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Not a chance, I doubt there will be a Lib Dem MP left after the next election.


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